“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
– Pablo Picasso
Illustrations to warm your heart
When you shop for artwork there doesn’t seem to be anything special out there. Shops have the same type of art for sale, reprints of classic/modern artists that you’ve seen a million times before or cute/funny drawings that make you chuckle for a moment but that you know you’ll soon grow tired of looking at. It’s not a home until you fill it with the little things you love. I make unique one-of-a-kind caricatures and limited print run artwork that earns a place among your most treasured items in your house/office. Every time your eyes scan the room and happen to land on one of my illustrations your heart will smile.
Almost anyone can learn to play a piano, but how long will it take them to become a master pianist? For many years I had stopped focusing on my artwork. You see, all my life I’ve always been attracted to 2D artwork from the cartoons of the 1960s. Think Looney Tunes, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny & The Roadrunner, these were always on rerun during the 1980s. There was something about those bold lines and simple shapes that conveyed so much emotion. I could never figure out why my drawings never looked like those of Chuck Jones or Maurice Noble.
Then one day I rediscovered a software tool (2008) that showed me the potential for a breakthru. The computer tool is called the “Pen Tool” and you can find it in any vector software program like Adobe Illustrator (which I was first introduced to in 1996), Corel Draw, and Apple Pages. To me it’s a modern high-tech chisel and I’ve spent countless hours mastering it to be able to create my digital work. I can now create any shape that I see in my mind and I use this acquired skill to create my digital caricatures and illustrations.
My name is Carlos and I born in Michoacan, Mexico (1978) in the small town of Ario de Rosales. My family immigrated to the USA when I was just one-and-a-half years old. My mother, brother, and I made the journey north and arrived to join my father in the city of Santa Ana, CA (1980). It’s the only home I’ve known.
Growing up, it was hard to learn English – as is true for most first generation immigrants. I got enrolled into ESL (English as a Second Language) all thru elementary school. My parents only spoke Spanish at home so I was always more than a few steps behind the other kids in English. All my neighborhood friends spoke Spanish so it didn’t really affect me until later on in school/life. Language and communication issues were a reason for why I turned to illustration. It’s universal, anyone can understand a drawing just by looking at it. There’s no need to speak.
I remember in 5th grade, I didn’t want to read out loud because of my lack of English speaking skills, I wanted to appear be the aloof, uninterested, cool kid. I wanted to say “This is boring”, in my mind that was the perfect phrase to stop my teacher from making me read – this is what I actually said, “I am boring”. The teacher didn’t skip a beat, she replied, “We all know you are boring Carlos, but you still have to read out loud.” All the kids at the table started laughing. I’m sure I felt horrible, but now it’s just a story in my head. It was an epic comeback.
Since the beginning, my favorite things to draw were animated characters; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then The Simpsons, and later anything Disney: The Little Mermaid, Lion King, Toy Story. I won an art contest in the first grade and my teacher encouraged me to pursue art. In junior high, I’d compete in unofficial art contests with classmates. I won one hands-down with a drawing of Darryl Strawberry (from the Fleer ’91 card) – the other contestant bowed out. People were always asking me to draw them something. I was drawing night and day. I’d annoy my brother by pausing animated movies to draw one of the characters during a crucial scene.
During high school I drew caricatures of the entire wrestling team and got t-shirts made by my coach. This started a tradition for future artistic wrestlers. One of my charcoal drawings made it into the high school art magazine – the assignment had been to redraw freehand a picture from a magazine. But for every success I had 10 failures. I would say yes to making a drawing for someone and then quit halfway thru when I couldn’t stand looking at the low quality of my work (I have always been my own worst critic). I remember going to my school art shows as a freshman, looking at the work from the senior students and thinking I could never draw something so amazing.
After high school (1996), I earned an A.A. degree in Graphic Design from Brooks College in Long Beach, CA (1998). I was the first in my family to attend college, it was like a dream to walk those halls. At Santa Ana College I earned an A.A degree in Liberal Arts (2001) before transferring to I also attended CSUF – California State University Fullerton (2003) and studied Animation for 2 years but left to pursue a career at Apple, Inc. Later, I was part of the national award winning newspaper El Don (2005) at Santa Ana College where the newspaper staff was flown to New York and I personally won 2 national awards – one for Page Layout and one for Cartoon Illustration.
Sometimes a gift means so much more than the giver ever imagined it would. We had a Christmas Exchange (2009) and I opened up my present. It was a picture frame and inside it was a drawing, my drawing. It was an illustration I had made of Elvis a couple months before and posted to my blog. I knew I didn’t have many viewers to my blog. But this friend of mine was one of them. What she did was she went to my blog, downloaded the drawing, printed it out, and went thru the trouble of framing it. I can’t explain to you what this meant to me. I was 31-years-old that year and I felt like a kid getting that present that he never knew he wanted until the moment he saw it. It did so much for me as a person and as an artist. It fueled me to keep making my digital illustrations.
My first digital caricature paid commission (2011) was requested by a friend who now runs a bakery shop. She asked me to do an original caricature of her goddaughter. I was flattered to be given such a task. I was worried that the final image would not be any good. Self-esteem issues where returning to plague my mind. I wanted to give up and say I was not up to the challenge. Like I’d done so many times before.
I persevered and finished the drawing. I was so nervous waiting to hear the feedback. When she saw it she loved it. The goddaughter’s parents came up to me and thanked me for the beautiful drawing I had made for them. It was a special moment. It started my digital caricature business. I’ve made many more caricatures since then and each one has been special. I feel grateful to be invited to get to know someone via their pictures. To be allowed to study their features and reinterpret them into a caricature. It brings me so much joy to get to draw people and make their hearts smile.
I work in three mediums Pen & Ink, iPad, and Digital Vectors. I started an Instagram account (2013) after a coworker told me people would love my artwork and needed to see it. I started posting the digital illustrations I made with Apple Pages on my Mac. More recently (2015), I picked up a pencil (yes, you remember those right) and started to make tiny illustrations for fun, some of the drawings I made with ink. I also post my occasional iPad sketches. My illustrations range from the whimsical to pop-culture references. I love drawing caricatures and exploring different pen (digital & traditional) techniques to create new takes on classic characters.
I live and work from my home studio in Santa Ana, CA.
Interested in hiring me for an illustration project? Visit my Hire Me page.
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People I Listen To:
Gary Vaynerchuck (Entrepreneur) Website
Grant Cardone (Entrepreneur) YouTube Channel
Seth Godin (Thinker) Daily Blog
Sean McCabe (Entrepreneur) Website
Keri Melich (Photographer) Instagram
Will Terry (Children’s Book Illustrator) YouTube Channel
Stephen Silver (Character Designer) YouTube Channel
Scott Poupis (Photographer) Instagram
Zen Pencils (Comic Book Inspirational Quote Artist) Website
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